A Compact History of Latin America's Cold War

By Vanni Pettinà

Translated by Quentin Pope

218 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6976-2
    Published: October 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6975-5
    Published: October 2022
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6977-9
    Published: September 2022

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While not commonly centered in the Cold War story, Latin America was intensely affected by that historic conflict. In this book, available for the first time in English, Vanni Pettinà makes sense of the region’s diverse, complex political experiences of the Cold War era. Cross-fertilized by Latin American and Anglophone historiography, his account shifts from an overemphasis on U.S. interventions toward a comprehensive Latin American perspective. Connecting Cold War events to the region's political polarizations, revolutionary mobilizations, draconian state repression, and brutal violence in almost every sphere, Pettinà demonstrates that Latin America's Cold War was rarely cold.

In the midst of the tumult, some countries showed resilience and capacity to bend the disruptive dynamics to their advantage. Mexico, for example, drew on a mix of nationalism and anticommunism, aided by the United States, to achieve strong economic growth and political stability. Cuba, in contrast, used Soviet protection to shield its revolution from the United States and to strengthen its capacity to project power in Latin America and beyond. Interweaving global and local developments along an insightful analytical frame, Pettinà reveals the distinct consequences of the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere.

About the Authors

Vanni Pettinà is associate professor of Latin American international history at El Colegio de México. He is coeditor of Latin America and the Global Cold War.
For more information about Vanni Pettinà, visit the Author Page.

Quentin Pope is a translator and editor who lives in Mexico.
For more information about Quentin Pope, visit the Author Page.


"Convincingly advances the notion that any good analysis of the Cold War in Latin America should acknowledge the fact that the global bifurcation of the world along conflicting ideologies and economic projects was paralleled in Latin America by an internal rivalry [Pettinà] calls an internal fracture. . . . An innovative study perfectly suited for classroom use."—The Latin Americanist

"An excellent book. Integrating the parallel and complementary English- and Spanish-language historiographies, Pettinà orients readers to the work being written in Latin America and to how that may change points of view. He is particularly effective in placing the role of the United States in proper perspective. Pettinà gets it just right."—Patrick Iber, University of Wisconsin–Madison

"This book embraces metanarrative while demonstrating comfort with what Pettinà calls Latin America's complex internal conflicts. Pettinà identifies patterns across the region without ignoring the contradictions that typically emerge when analyzing multiple countries, cultures, and languages."—Thomas C. Field Jr., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University